Monday, December 01, 2014

Five Tips for Staying Healthier This Holiday Season!

Whether you are a nurse, midwife, physician, childbirth educator, doula or lactation consultant....OR if you are forwarding this to someone who is pregnant, these five tips for staying healthier this holiday season are for you!

Stay hydrated

Oddly, winter is an ideal time to become dehydrated whether pregnant or not.  The increase in
caffeinated beverages with their diuretic effect can contribute.  You still need to consume 6-8, 8 oz glasses of water (not tea or coffee or soda) daily.  That is 64 fl oz or 1/2 gallon or more. Mild to moderate symptoms of dehydration in adults include an increased thirst, dry mouth, tired or sleepy, decreased urine output, urine in low volume and more yellowish than normal, headache, dry skin, dizziness, and few or no tears.  Still not sure if you are in need of more fluids?  Check out this info graphic from the Cleveland Clinic on what the color of your urine says!

Eat wisely

As you may have noticed in the recent US holiday of Thanksgiving, it is quite easy to depart from your normal eating patterns.  In remembering this, challenge yourself to replace breads and pies with veggies and fruit - you still need 6-10 servings of fruits and vegetables even during the holidays.  Refrain from red meats or meats that have been raised with hormones and antibiotics.  Begin the day with a good breakfast.  And perhaps finish the day off with some dark red cherries as they stimulate the production of melatonin - so you can do the following --->

Pay attention to your Circadian Rhythm

What is your Circadian Rhythm?  Defined by the Center for Sleep Medicine near Chicago Illinois, The term, "Circadian Rhythm" refers to our body's internal clock which regulates the timing of such body rhythms as temperature, hormone levels, metabolism, and most visibly the sleep-wake cycle. The clock is set in relation to the changing light and dark cycles of our planet and relies on "Zeitgebers" - cues which influence the clock's timing. Exposure to light and darkness the most important cues, but so are other functions, such as eating and exercise. The circadian clock functions in a cycle of approximately 24 hours. Our circadian clock is controlled by an area of the brain called the Suprachiasmic Nucleus (SCN). Exposure to light and darkness - which regulates the circadian clock - is communicated along a pathway from the eyes to the brain.  Age, genetics and hormones do pay a part in getting rest but listening to your body when you are tired, which may mean sleeping more during the winter (hibernation) leads to less weight gain, improved mood and an increased ability to concentrate!

Get at least 8 hugs a day

The website recommends at least 8 hugs per day because:

(1) The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and
honest communication. (
2) Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. (3) Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one's serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. (4) Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body's production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free. (5) Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we're born our family's touch shows us that we're loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self-love. (6)Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues. (7) Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system - parasympathetic. (8) Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways. (9) Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath. (10) The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding.
Practice mindfulness daily

According to an article published by the Northern Arizona University, there are five key ways that mindfulness increased physical and mental health:  it strengthens the immune system and physiological responses to stress and negative emotions; it improves social relationships with family and strangers; it reduces stress, depression and anxiety and increases well-being and happiness; it increases openness to experience, conscientiousness and agreeableness and reduces negative associations with neuroticism; it leads to greater psychological mindfulness, which includes an awareness that is clear, nonconceptual and flexible - a practical stance toward reality and present attention to the individual's consciousness and awareness.

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